Cost of living decreases for expats in Dubai: Mercer's 24th Annual Cost of Living survey

Dubai ranks 26th globally in overall cost of living for expat employees


Dubai, United Arab Emirates – Mercer, a global consulting leader in advancing health, wealth and careers, and a wholly owned subsidiary of Marsh & McLennan Companies (NYSE: MMC) today announced a decrease in the cost of living ranking for Dubai according to Mercer’s 24th Annual Cost of Living survey.

Mercer’s survey reveals that Dubai dropped in global rankings from the 19th to the 26th most expensive city, indicating a decrease in the cost of living of Dubai compared to other cities in the world. For instance, one liter of gasoline in Dubai costs 0.61 USD, while it costs 0.70 USD in New York and 1.65 USD in London. Similarly, rent for a two-bedroom apartment of international standards costs an average of 2,995 USD in Dubai, while it costs an average of 5,700 USD in New York and 4,335 USD in London. Despite the drop in the ranking, Dubai remains the most expensive city in the Middle East followed by Abu Dhabi, Riyadh and Beirut.

One of the reasons of the decreased relative cost of living is the depreciation of the USD and AED versus several major currencies the last 12 months. Another reason is the continuous decreases in rental accommodation costs. Given that rental prices are a significant factor in cost of living for expats in particular, the overall cost of living decreases as well. Similar exchange rate and housing trends are observed throughout the region, and as a result, several Middle Eastern cities have fallen in the ranking. The only country in the region that goes against the trend is Saudi Arabia, where subsidy cuts and taxes such as VAT have had an impact to such an extent that Riyadh has moved up the ranking from the 52nd to the 45th spot.

Rob Thissen, Senior Associate at Mercer in Dubai and responsible for Global Talent Mobility Services commented: “Given the decreased relative cost of living in Dubai compared to other cities, the UAE continues to be an attractive country for expat employees. In today’s world, multinational organizations are realizing the importance of a mobile workforce to effectively deploy talent. Understanding the cost of living in each city is an essential aspect of assessing expat remuneration packages. As a result of the lower cost of living in comparison to several other major cities, the UAE consistently attracts top talent from around the world, which allows for further economic growth and innovation.”

Mercer produces individual cost of living and rental accommodation cost reports for each city surveyed. For more information on city rankings, visit To purchase copies of individual city reports, visit or call Mercer Client Services in Warsaw on +48 22 434 5383.


Notes for editors

The top 10 cities may be reproduced in a table.

The figures for Mercer’s cost of living and rental accommodation cost comparisons are derived from a survey conducted in March 2018. Exchange rates from that time and Mercer’s international basket of goods and services from its Cost of Living survey have been used as base measurements.

Governments and major companies use data from this survey to protect the purchasing power of their employees when transferred abroad; rental accommodation costs data is used to assess local expatriate housing allowances. The choice of cities surveyed is based on the demand for data.

About Mercer

Mercer delivers advice and technology-driven solutions that help organizations meet the health, wealth and career needs of a changing workforce. Mercer’s more than 22,000 employees are based in 44 countries and the firm operates in over 130 countries. Mercer is a wholly owned subsidiary of Marsh & McLennan Companies (NYSE: MMC), the leading global professional services firm in the areas of risk, strategy and people. With nearly 65,000 colleagues and annual revenue over $14 billion, through its market-leading companies including Marsh, Guy Carpenter and Oliver Wyman, Marsh & McLennan helps clients navigate an increasingly dynamic and complex environment. For more information, visit Follow Mercer on Twitter @Mercer.

Mercer also provides advice and market data on international and expatriate compensation management, and works with multinational companies and governments worldwide. It maintains one of the most comprehensive databases on international assignment policies; compensation practices; and data on worldwide cost of living, housing, and hardship allowances. Its annual global mobility conferences and other events provide companies with the latest trends and research on mobility issues. Visit for details. Follow Mercer’s mobility news on Twitter @Mercer.

Mercer Cost of Living Survey – Worldwide Rankings 2018 – Top 10

(The Mercer international basket, including rental accommodation costs)

Rank as of March
























South Korea





















Source: Mercer’s 2018 Cost of Living Survey

© Press Release 2018

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